Two Gauteng schools and a non-profit organisation in Pretoria were the grateful recipients of a state-of-the-art mobile digital library, each containing 40 computer tablets, a laptop and a printer.
The digital libraries were donated to the Simunye Primary School and Landulwazi Comprehensive School in Thokoza in Johannesburg, and the Kea Mpane Foundation in Arcadia, Pretoria, by Astron Energy, South Africa’s second largest petroleum network with over 850 Caltex-branded service stations in SA and Botswana.
The Kea Mpane Foundation is aimed at building excellence in the Supply Chain industry by nurturing the next generation of professionals and young business minds.
Winny Dubazane, Astron Energy Social Investment Advisor, said the 120 tablets formed part of the Company’s commitment to educational development initiatives in South Africa and to help prepare and support young people for a digital future.
The digital libraries were designed by Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company Ruratech which will provide training to the beneficiaries on how to use the tablets and also provide ICT support for a full year.
Astron Energy has a number of initiatives and programmes across South Africa, seeking to deepen key STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills in young people. In addition, the Company has sought to include coding and robotics to help prepare young people for a 4IR future.
“We realise that as important as teaching STEM skills are, we also have to provide the logistical support to enable young people to practically engage and learn, and that is why we decided to provide 120 tablets and supporting equipment and ICT support for this purpose,” Dubazane added.
Simunye Primary School principal Ellen Shongwe said the digital libraries would alter the learning trajectory of pupils at the school.
“Now, from a young age they can get to engage and learn on devices which, together with the curriculum, will help prepare them for an increasingly digital future,” Shongwe said. “Thank you to Astron Energy and Ruratech for the donation and, as important, the ongoing ICT support.”
Jeffrey Katuruza of Ruratech, a company focused on empowering learners in disadvantaged communities with ICT equipment and support, said it was a privilege to come alongside Astron Energy to help make a tangible difference in the lives of young people and “we look forward to working alongside the schools and the Kea Mpane Foundation to help build up knowledge and key skills”.
Astron Energy recently identified gaps around literacy and numeracy which impacted the ability of children to comprehend and engage effectively on STEM subjects.
“While STEM skills development programmes are critical, we have come to understand that in order for us to make a meaningful impact as an organisation, we have to address other critical skills which impact on the holistic development of the learner,” Dubazane said.
The 4th Industrial Revolution requires the 3Cs (Communication, Critical thinking and Collaboration) and “as part of our integrated approach to learning, we have included literacy and elements of numeracy to ensure we get the basics right”.
“The result is that STEM has become STEAM – Science, Technology, Arts and Maths,” she said. “The aim is, not only to improve literacy levels, but to develop problem solving and process-based learning by developing skills in the critical areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We are striving to provide our young learners with the best possible platform to succeed.”
Astron Energy is committed to continued investment in the STEAM space to help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers.